The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent ripples through the industry Tuesday with the announcement of new diversity and representation requirements for best picture beginning in 2024. Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin, along with producer DeVon Franklin and Paramount chief Jim Gianopulos spoke with Variety about the new initiatives and why they are so important.
An enthusiastic Hudson said this was the “fulfillment of the A2020 goal.”
But the announcement was met with sharp criticisms from some observers. A member of the Academy’s writing branch, who asked to not be named, tells Variety, “This does nothing for the Hollywood industry except stifle the creative process with checkboxes and no artistic movement.” The member continued, “This is the town where you have to pay your dues and wait for your big break. What are people to think now when you got the job just because you happened to be the right culture or color?”
Gianopulos shared confidence in the initiative. “The governors that they have elected and the board have a thorough understanding of the essential and more creative freedom in filmmaking,” he said.
One of the criticisms from journalists and colleagues is that the guidelines don’t go far enough, and another is that savvy awards strategists and studio moguls could exploit the new system to keep things status quo.
The Academy quartet was also asked about data surrounding this initiative and how many films in the 92-year history would not have met the threshold under these new guidelines. “We looked at it,” said Rubin, but e would not give the definitive number on how many films would not have made the cut.
Hudson specified, “We don’t want the minimum met. We want them to meet all these thresholds.”
Rubin, a two-time Emmy-winning casting director explained, “This is an effort to move from intent to objective progress.”
Franklin, who co-headed the task force with Gianopulos, said he saw this change as “going forward and progress.” He continued, “We’re not looking at the past — We’re looking toward the future.”
Hudson said effort will help create a pipeline for the film business, “It’s about opening up our industry to all.”